Of course, since it's the end of the year, everyone has to pipe in with their favorite albums of the year. While I was a bit critical of their list at the day job, you have to give Patrol Magazine some credit for trying to break down the ridiculous wall between the music of mainstream Christian music and Christians making music out in the general marketplace, including placing Brooke Waggoner's album Heal For The Honey in the top spot (listen to "So-So" from the album above). I'm certain my list of best "faith-based" discs of 2008 would be significantly different, but if you have a iTunes gift card burning a digital hole in your pocket after Christmas, you could pick nearly any of the albums Patrol mentions and feel confident in your purchase (unless you buy the dreadful Francesca Battistelli disc, which was likely added to Patrol's list on a dare or bet). While most of these albums would likely find themselves on the outside of any discussion of "great" Christian music, sometimes it's fun to listen to music that's of the moment and good enough.
My top five albums from 2008 that would be available for you to purchase with the Family Christian Stores gift card Grandma gave you:
The Myriad, With Arrows, With Poise:
Family Force 5, Dance or Die:
The Classic Crime, The Silver Cord:
Anberlin, New Surrender:
"Feel Good Drag"
Overall, it seemed like a bit of an off year for Christian music, although there were certainly big releases from Chris Tomlin and others to clog the shelves pushing less prominent (but possibly better) albums to the back of the rack. There was some good news with reissues of Amy Grant's sublime Lead Me On and Daniel Amos' groundbreaking Darn Floor, Big Bite hopefully kicking off a forthcoming steady stream of reissues from the genre's past and a number of albums that were quite good and might hold up as the old calendar hits the wastebasket.
Best of luck to the Christian music industry in 2009 and to all of us as listeners. I still believe there's a chance for great Christian music to come from Nashville (directly or indirectly), however foolish that hope might be.